Some women suffer from period pains
for decades whilst others only seem to experience them in their teens and early twenties. Unfortunately pharmaceutical medication is our culture’s answer to hiding symptoms when we should be finding out about the possible causes and then treating the pain in a more natural way.
What are period pains?
The medical term for period pains or menstrual cramps is dysmenorrhea and they are caused by the uterus contracting. As well as the stomach cramps, some women suffer from other symptoms such as extreme tiredness, back ache, vomiting, diarrhea and pain down the inside of the thighs.
Why teenage girls are more at risk from period pains
Teens especially suffer from menstrual and other disorders at this challenging time in their lives. Many of today’s teenage girls live busy lives, faced with exhausting academic demands, extracurricular schedules, peer pressures about sex and recreational drugs, a barrage of unhealthy fast food, acne
and their appearance. Through it all, they’re constantly engaging with social media, leaving them little time to take care of themselves. When they seek medical help for period pains, birth control pills, pain killers and even antidepressants are often prescribed with their short term and long term side effects.
The use of birth control pills
A whole new subject of their own, birth control pills (which have been used since the 1960s) are a form of hormone replacement therapy, consisting of hormones (estrogen and progesterone) that are synthetic – and therefore very different in their chemical structure than those naturally produced by a female body. According to Planned Parenthood
, their potential short term side effects include bleeding between periods, nausea, vomiting and breast tenderness while many women report weight gain and low sex drive. Serious side effects include strokes, hypertension, liver tumors and blood clots in the legs, lungs, heart and brain. It’s also common for long term pill users to develop gallstones.
More natural ways to reduce the discomfort
Instead of taking the pharmaceutical route, simple lifestyle changes could make the difference between an unhappy teen who is stressed and one who is thriving. Older women, who still suffer from period pains, would also benefit from these changes.
1. Getting enough sleep
. An article in the journal Paediatrics and Child Health
reported in 2008 that teens’ rapid rate of development and growth requires that they get above average sleep
– some 9 to 10 hours per night - in order to not feel sleepy during the day. Poor sleep quality
can also increase risk of depression in teens.
2. Diet and exercise
are hugely important both for general health and of course hormone health.
3. Whole foods
with dense safe and natural nutrition will stabilize levels of stress hormones while maintaining “happy” brain chemicals like serotonin.
4. The use of natural herbal and nutritional medicines
can be extremely helpful in treating a young woman's period pains and other symptoms. It may be wise to see a qualified naturopathic doctor for a comprehensive treatment plan to get back on track.
5. You can help by taking supplements
including cell salts, extra calcium, magnesium, zinc and potassium. Vitamin B complex helps to reduce muscle spasms.
6. Avoiding stress
. When you do suffer from any pain and discomfort, don't be shy about telling family and friends that you are not feeling 100% so that you can relax in peace
Here some natural remedies
is one and the easiest way to take it is by making a tea.
Pound a 1 inch or 20 mm piece of lemon grass, put it in a cup and fill with boiling water. Leave it to brew for five minutes with an occasional stir before drinking. Other herbal treatments such as evening primrose oil will reduce or even prevent cramps while an anti spasmodic herbal treatment such as herbal teas drunk from the start of your period a few times a day will be beneficial. Blanched ginger or lemon balm teas can also be drunk.
It's not to everyone’s taste, but fennel
can be helpful as it has been found that taking drops made from the liquorice-flavored seeds of the plant can lead to women feeling less depressed, easing the discomfort. It is thought that fennel helps to rebalance the female sex hormones blamed for some menstrual symptoms.
is an easy alternative. There are healing foot acupressure points for a whole host of health benefits including the relief of menstrual cramps. You can find out more about this procedure here.
As an interesting postscript, did you know that the female baboon can also have menstrual cramps and that they seek out the candelabra tree (or cassia) to relieve their symptoms?